Autoencoders for Image Similarity: A Functional Guide

February 17, 2023

 In this article, we are going to learn about Autoencoders, their definition, and their functions. The scope of the article includes: 

  • What are Autoencoders and their functions?
  • Is Autoencoder a black box?
  • How are Autoencoders used to detect Image Similarity?
  • Steps to train images with Autoencoders
  • Datasets used with autoencoders for Image Similarity 
  • How to launch A100 80GB Cloud GPU on E2E Cloud for training an autoencoder model to detect Image Similarity?

What are Autoencoders and their functions?

Autoencoders are unsupervised neural networks, consisting of two parts - an Encoder and a Decoder.  An encoder placed in the first layer takes some input, and learns how to efficiently compress and encode that data into something we call the “code”. Then we have a decoder that learns how to reconstruct that encoded data representation. So, the decoder is what creates the output, which is as similar as possible to the original input data.

An autoencoder effectively learns to recognize the relevant aspects of observable data and limits noise in data. Is this all about creating smaller file sizes like the way we compress a video or zip up some documents? No, not at all. Here are a few examples, convolutional autoencoders have a variety of use cases related to images. 

For example, we can draw an image in which the numeric three is inside a square box through a process called feature extraction. You can derive the required features of the image by removing noise, something that looks like dots inside a box. Post this, it is possible to generate an output that approximates the original. It’s not the same so we can use this part called a “code” to do other things like create a higher resolution version of the output image, or colorize an image, so black and white input will generate a full-color output. In this case, the input and output look somewhat similar, which is what autoencoders are all about. But they don’t have to be. We can provide input to an autoencoder in a corrupted form, like the noisy image of a three, and then train a denoising autoencoder to reconstruct our original image. Once we have trained our autoencoder to remove noise from a representation of a number or a park bench picture, we can apply that to all sorts of objects within an object element that displayed the same noise pattern.

Scooping a depth version of autoencoders, the encoder compresses the input into a latent space representation. So, we have multiple layers here that represent the encoder. Each one is smaller than the other, so this part here is the encoder. The most compressed version is called of the “code”. Auto-encoder combines both encoder and decoder to learn a feature representation of input images. Both the parameters are combined and trained with a single common loss function and optimizer. The encoder layers give us a resultant latent model of images through convolutional layers.

Is Autoencoder a black box?

As a black box, the autoencoder might seem purposeless. Why do we bother reconstructing an imperfect copy of our data if we already have the data? Good point. The true worth of the autoencoder lies in the encoder and decoder themselves as separate tools, rather than as a joint black box for reconstructing the input data. 

For example, if we lower the encoding dimensionality sufficiently, we can guide the autoencoder to learn the most salient features of your data during training (and ignore ‘noises’ of the data) with the heuristic being that the autoencoder is enforced to reduce the reconstruction error with the constraint of having limited degrees of freedom available. Therefore, the autoencoder will prioritize retaining the most macroscopic details of the data first. 

How are Autoencoders used to detect Image Similarity?

Autoencoders work by taking an image as input, compressing it into a smaller representation, and then reconstructing the image from the compressed representation. By comparing the reconstructed image to the original input image, the autoencoder measures the similarity between the two images. They are also used to detect differences between autoencoder measures the similarity between the two images by comparing the reconstructed image to the original input image images, such as changes in color, brightness, or texture, useful for tasks such as image comparison, object recognition, and image classification.

We can acknowledge Image similarity by using a pre-trained model. This model can take an input image and extract its features. The extracted features can then be compared to the features of the other images to detect similarities. This method is useful for tasks such as image classification and retrieval, where the goal is to find similar images. Autoencoders can also be used for data compression and faster transmission of images over the internet.

Steps to train images with Autoencoders

  1.  Load the images into a dataset and split them into training and validation sets. 
  1.  Pre-process the images by normalizing them and resizing them to a uniform size. 
  1. Construct an autoencoder network with an input and output layer. 
  1. Train the autoencoder by passing the training images through the autoencoder network. 
  1. Monitor the performance of the autoencoder by evaluating the reconstruction error on the validation set. 
  1. Tune the hyperparameters of the autoencoder to optimize its performance. 
  1. Test the autoencoder on unseen images to evaluate its generalization capabilities.

Datasets used with autoencoders for Image Similarity 

1. MNIST dataset: The MNIST dataset is a collection of handwritten digits that has been used for image similarity tasks for decades. It consists of 60,000 training images and 10,000 test images. 

Github source code:

2. CIFAR-10 dataset: The CIFAR-10 dataset consists of 60,000 32x32 color images in 10 classes, with 6,000 images per class. It is used for image recognition tasks as well as for image similarity. 

Github source code:

3. ImageNet dataset: ImageNet is a large dataset of over 14 million images in more than 20,000 categories. It is used for image recognition and image similarity tasks. 

Github source code:

4. SVHN dataset: The Street View House Number (SVHN) dataset is a real-world image dataset for recognizing house numbers. It consists of more than 6,00,000 images of house numbers collected from Google Street View. It is used for image similarity tasks.

Github source code:

Launch A100 80GB Cloud GPU on E2E Cloud for training an autoencoder model to detect Image Similarity

  • Go to Compute> GPU> NVIDIA- A100 80GB.
  • Click on “Create” and choose your plan.

  • Choose your required security, backup, and network settings and click on “Create My Node”.

  • The launched plan will appear in your dashboard once it starts running.

After launching the A100 80GB Cloud GPU from the Myaccount portal, you can deploy any autoencoder model to detect image similarity. 

E2E Networks is the leading accelerated Cloud Computing player which provides the latest Cloud GPUs at a great value. Connect with us at

Request a free trial here:

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